Howard misses chances, falls in 10th

Lions let North Caroline escape with 7-6 victory

2A softball

May 26, 1999|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Jessica Burns did everything she could yesterday to help Howard win its Class 2A state semifinal game against North Caroline at Randazzo Park.

The senior third baseman made a run-saving catch of a sharp line drive in the fifth inning. Her two-out single in the sixth inning capped a three-run rally that tied the game and sent it into extra innings. And she paid the price for scoring a run in the ninth, colliding hard with the catcher.

Remember her for that.

For sure, Burns' two-out, ninth-inning error that allowed North Caroline to tie the game was costly. But Howard's 7-6, 10-inning defeat, as difficult as it was, came down to more than one play.

"If it's not for [Burns] we don't go into extra innings," said Howard coach Dave Vezzi. "I don't want her to feel bad about one play in an entire season."

The Lions (16-7) took a brief 1-0 lead when Stacey Swiney hit the seventh pitch of the game into right-center field for a home run. But North Caroline (20-3) took advantage of two errors in the second to score twice, and added two more in the third for a 4-1 lead. The Lions responded with three in the sixth on an RBI single from shortstop Sarah Berg, a sacrifice fly from pitcher Kelly O'Neill and Burns' line single to left.

Each team begins an extra inning with a player on second base. Howard scored single runs in the eighth and ninth innings, but let North Caroline off the hook by stranding two runners each time.

"You just can't continue to give good teams opportunities before it catches up to you," said Vezzi.

Howard opened the eighth inning with Kim Palmer on second. Swiney led off with a single, and Palmer went to third and Swiney to second on the throw home. Berg's sacrifice fly scored Palmer, and Swiney moved to third on the play. O'Neill's swinging nubber up the third-base line put her on first, but Swiney had to stay on third. O'Neill moved to second without a throw. Shannon Tracy hit a grounder to second, but Swiney was thrown out at the plate. Burns popped out to end the inning.

North Caroline, which will play Walkersville, a 2-1 semifinal winner over North East, on Friday night for the title, scored on a single in the bottom of the eighth.

With Burns on second to begin the Howard ninth, Dawn Phillips put down a perfect two-strike sacrifice bunt. Beth Myers' bunt was handled by the catcher, but she could not make a play. Myers moved to second without a throw, giving the Lions runners on second and third with one out. Lindsey Hasiuk followed with a grounder to shortstop, and Burns beat the throw home on a hard collision at the plate.

Myers went to third on the play, and Hasiuk later took second without a throw. But Palmer and Swiney could not get them in.

O'Neill, who gave up eight hits, walked two and struck out 11, got the first two outs in the ninth without the runner advancing. Lauren Petrick hit a routine grounder to Burns, but her throw to first base was low and got by Tracy, allowing the tying run to score.

The Lions went one-two-three in the 10th inning. North Caroline had runners on second and third with no outs in the bottom half when Jeni Myers singled home the winning run.

"That [game] was hard as heck," said O'Neill. "Everyone was so nervous going inning after inning, but we gave it all we had."

Pub Date: 5/26/99

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